The road to getting those three little letters after my name…

Six years ago, I found myself as a Volunteer Coordinator in a place where I didn’t feel valued as a part of the team and after a few months that led me to questioning my own value. What was I bringing to the organization? Was I just the friendly face that welcomed volunteers and answered the phone? My passion for volunteers never wavered but I was left wondering what’s next? Is this all there is?

After a late night of googling, I stumbled onto the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA). If I need a confidence boost that is what I found. Not only was there national support and a recognized platform for the profession but the requirements were obtainable. Going through the self-assessment I realized that I had skills and experience that was valuable!

At this time, I found a new role with the American Red Cross where I found a team that valued my experience, my skills, and volunteerism. I will forever be grateful to my supervisors’ support as I shared my desire to apply to become a Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA) Candidate. With her letter of support and CCVA’s application process I was quickly on my way.

But this is where the story gets long as life got in the way and I made excuses to delay sitting for the test. I now recognize this as fear, I have never been a good test taker and what if I fail? Two years after being accepted I finally set a date. Surprise, Surprise… I don’t pass….

Now comes the embarrassment and shame. It’s a shot to the ego. Having to tell my partner, family, and supervisor that I didn’t pass was hard enough let alone to think of trying again. I can’t say I handled it well and that there weren’t tears, but this led to me feeling like I needed to prove something. With this energy to get involved in a different way I did just that which lead to my fateful encounter with Faiza Venzant. Faiza was promoting CCVA at the Points of Light Conference in Minneapolis last year and we happened to chat. I fessed up that I didn’t pass, and she shared that it is common to have to take the test more than once. What probably felt like such a small conversation to her changed my whole perspective.

I realized that I couldn’t be the only one feeling the way I did about not passing, and I promised to be open about my situation moving forward. After I made this commitment it only took three people before I found someone who also had not passed their first attempt. And the more vocal about my failure I became the more people offered support or tips on how they eventually passed. By putting my vulnerability and embarrassment out there I ended up finding a community that wanted me to succeed that it encouraged me to try again. I can’t say that I didn’t go into the second time terrified or feeling fully prepared as I was still so nervous and thought what would happen if I failed again. But I am happy to report that in April 2020 I received my CVA.

Now that I have those three little letters after my name, I found a community that is so excited to interact and a commonality that makes us want to connect. I have heard from many wonderful people about where they have gone and what this certification has done for them in the long term, but I can’t say enough about the impact it’s had in these last three months.

In Summary: I failed. But seeing Cairn Reisch, CVA was worth it.

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